Wild and Lazy Fermentation

Asian Pear and Apple Cider Vinegar

Just-juiced apple cider and just-fermented Asian pear cider vinegar

I LOVE CIDER VINEGAR.  Love it.  I use it for everything.  If I were an old Greek immigrant in a movie, it would be my windex.  I use it for cleaning, drinking, seasoning and washing my hair (really).  Anyway, now that you’re judging me, I will proceed.

I have two batches made at the moment.  The batch that has already completed fermentation is the Asian pear cider vinegar.  This one started fermenting without me when I left a half-gallon of Asian pear cider from the farmers’ market in the back of the fridge for too long.  It got puffy and I got psyched.  I took it out of the fridge, poured it from the puff jug into a half-gallon container, stuck a dish towel over the top of it and secured it with a rubber band.  Two weeks later there was a weird, grey scum on the top, so I knew fermentation was happening!  I skimmed the scum and left it for another two weeks until it tasted and smelled like vinegar.  As a bonus, a mother formed on the surface!  I stuck that into one of the half gallons of apple cider vinegar I made tonight to aid in fermentation.

As for tonight, I started with a half a bushel of apples from Three Springs Fruit Farm that I bought at Headhouse Farmers’ Market.  I processed them a couple of ways.  Some, I ran through the food processor until they were quite puréed, then I put them through the finest grate on the food mill, then through a fine mesh strainer.   It soon became clear that this was a big mess and a pain in the ass.  So I switched to the lazy man’s version:  I shoved all the apples into the juicer.  This was much faster.  Between the two methods, I ended up with a gallon and a quart of cider.    I topped each batch off with a little bit of that Asian pear cider vinegar (maybe half a cup per almost half gallon of cider), secured their little hats and then stuck them in a corner where the sun don’t shine.

I still had a quite a few apples left.  They were lovely: jonagolds, galas, cameos, fujis and a couple other delicious varieties that Three Springs had on hand.  I steamed several, skins on, and made them into a  thick and cinnamony applesauce.  The best part about steaming them is that there is always a little faux cider left in the bottom of the pan.  It’s white/clear in color but flavorful and toasty warm!

A few others we saved for chomping and, well, saving!  Stuck them in the basement for some local, winter eating.  Last but not least, I made my first go at lacto-pickling apples.  I’m not confident this is going to work, but I’ll let you know if it did in a month or so!

It was a delectable evening and I’m looking to using this vinegar over the coming months.

 

The cider’s got his hat on. Hip hip hip hooray!

Note: This post was scheduled in advance.  I’m currently visiting the wonderful country of Peru and have limited access to wifi and my own electronic devices.  If you comment and it doesn’t post or I don’t respond immediately, I apologize.  I promise I’ll catch up with you when I’m back in the country!

 

4 Comments

  1. Posted December 6, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    I use a ton of apple cider vinegar. I recently tried making my own, but didn’t cover them with enough water or check on them often enough, so they evaporated down too much, and became pretty nasty. Being new to fermentation, I wasn’t sure if anything was salvagable, so I tossed the whole thing. Going to start another attempt soon though!

  2. Amanda
    Posted December 8, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Hey Dustin,
    Definitely give it another go! Sometimes ferments fail for all us. You might want to try making it with cider, rather than apple chunks. There shouldn’t be any need to use water. Just get them good and mashed or make a juice/cider and start fermentation from that! Good luck, and let me know how the next batch goes!
    Amanda

  3. Melanie
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    OMG! I use Three Springs Fruit Farm cider and apples too! I don’t know if you were aware, but they will sell you their ‘expired’ cider (ooh – one day past the printed date – eek!) for a REALLY good price. I currently have 2 gallons turning into vinegar and 7 gallons turing into hard cider as we speak. In fact, my cider to vinegar ferments are about 3 weeks old and are tasting rather weak/ more like sour cider than a good robust vinegar. I used Bragg vinegar as starter and they’ve been in the dark at room temperature since. I was planning to gift all my neighbors with them this holiday, so I need them to be ready in 10 days/2 weeks…. Any suggestions? Did I just not plan far enough ahead? More/another starter? (BTW – hope you had a lovely vacation. I’ll take your answers whenever you get back. If anyone else has any advice, I would really appreciate it!)
    Thanks!

  4. Amanda
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Hey Melanie,

    What a great gift idea! My vinegar batches generally take at least a month and sometimes longer, mostly depending on temperature and maybe the strength of the starter. If your house isn’t too cold, you should be fine in 3 weeks + 10 days! Maybe move them to a warmer (still room-temp) spot, away from sunlight, and see if that does the trick.

    Did you get scum after the first couple weeks?

    Thanks so much for the great tip on day-past cider! I’ll definitely be hooking myself up with that next fall!

    I am staying in the luxury of a hotel with wifi tonight, thus the response from iPhone. Tomorrow, we’ll be in a thatched hut with a Quechua family. This is a weird and wonderful trip. :-)

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